Category Archives: Board vs. Blossom Ridge

Francis P Hughes’ objectionable comment re: Blossom Ridge

Mr. Hughes recently commented on Blossom Ridge.   His is the least lucid statement that we have dealt with here.  It does not belong among the normally thoughtful comments contributed to this site by many others .  I decided to present it here, in a post, as an example of the kind of contribution that, if they continue to fill these pages, will drive the many contributors of intelligent discourse from this site.  This noise is not welcome here.   My response to his contribution is at the bottom of the page.

“Foulkrod and Michalski are SERIAL SELF-APPOINTED GADFLIES AS IS Marc  Edwards. The last things they want the residents to hear are the facts about what is a reasonable size for a senior housing development in Oakland and Macomb Counties. It is about 100+ living units not 200-300.  All three of them were around when the Fogler BOT totally ignored/violated our Zoning Ordinance and Master Plan. Instead of protesting that Board’s majority actions like Trustees Bailey and McKay did, they deliberately joined in the effort to build a huge Warehouse with cubbyhole sized apartments , all in violation of our carefully crafted Zoning Ordinance. Would someone please show them the EXIT DOOR?”

Francis P. Hughes

Note – Nov 26, 2013:  There was a poll here but I stopped displaying it because, for whatever reason,   it recently showed that 77%  of respondents were  supportive of Mr. Hughes negative attitude towards the proposed senior living center.  The Federal investigation into Oakland Township’s bias against fair housing is ongoing.  I feared that, regardless of whether that statistic reflects reality, it could lead to a negative perception by the authorities of our community’s attitude about the Federal Fair Housing Law  and that could hurt us all.

FRANCIS Hughes is an attorney (retired).  Mr. Hughes was, at one time, employed in the field of municipal law for the cities of Rochester Hills and Gaylord. From my layman’s view it appears that Mr. Hughes’ statements violate Fair Housing Laws, especially when uses the term “warehouse” and also when he has previously stated that Blossom Ridge would cause a reduction of neighborhood property values.  He should know better.

Further, Mr. Hughes’ statements echo the actions of the current Board of Trustees who dispute the professional advice of the Township Planning Consultant, Traffic Engineers, the former Township Fire Chief, County Zoning Committee and Charlotte Burkhardt (President of American Planners Association).

I was the Planning Commissioner who made the motion to recommend the approval of the Blossom Ridge proposal to the Township Board.  In my motion I clearly stated how the proposal met every one of the many standards of approval in our Zoning Ordinance and Master Plan.  Nobody should be impressed by Mr. Hughes’ ignorant accusation that I “totally ignored/violated” the standards contained in those documents.

Jim Foulkrod

Does Oakland Township need Senior Disabled housing?

There appear to be some residents of Oakland Township that question the need for Senior Disabled housing in our Township.  Several years ago, the developer of the Blossom Ridge development used SEMCOG data to demonstrate to the previous Oakland Township Board that this type of development is needed in our community.  

At the November 7, 2013 Board of Oakland Township meeting, Supervisor Gonser indicated that he does NOT recommend approving the Special Accommodation use for the proposed development on the Northwest corner of Adams Road and Dutton Road in our Township.

The link below is a copy of the report that the developer provided the Township back in 2011 to demonstrate that there is a real need for this type housing in our township:

A Case for Senior Housing Compiled

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  The citizens of Oakland Township need to understand the data that demonstrates the need for such a development in our community.  They may then be in a better position to influence the Board in rejecting Supervisor Gonser’s recommendation to NOT approve the Special Accommodation request. This report will likely be used by the Federal Government in their investigation into discriminatory zoning practices in Oakland Township if the Board rejects the request.

Richard Michalski

Supervisor Gonser recommends NOT approving Special Accommodations for the elderly disabled in Oakland Township!

At the November 7, 2013 Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser recommended NOT APPROVING the Special Accommodation request submitted by the Blossom Ridge Developer in August of 2012.  This request has been on the Board’s ‘table’ since they took office in November of last year.  Supervisor Gonser reviewed the reasons for his recommendation.  Here is his recommendation:

2013_11_07 Supervisor Recommendation

The issues raised by Supervisor Gonser are ones that should not have taken a year to identify.  He and the Township Attorney spent months working with the developer trying to revise the plan.  There were significant changes proposed to the plan.  Gonser felt comfortable enough with the revised plan to have it reviewed at a Board meeting on October 8th.  The citizens present were not satisfied with the changes.  He now is recommending a rejection of the Special Accommodation Use request.  

In his recommendation, he says “the community has no RM (Medium Density Residential)”.  That statement is wrong.  Yes, we do not have any RM (Multifamily Residential), but we do have Medium Residential Districts (MRD).  This error leads me to believe that Gonser’s recommendation was not reviewed by our Township Attorney.  THIS ISSUE IS TOO IMPORTANT TO OUR TOWNSHIP TO HAVE THE RECOMMENDATION NOT FULLY REVIEWED BY OUR TOWNSHIP ATTORNEY.

Here are several counter-points to the issues he raised:

  • Age is protected under Michigan State Law:  The Elliott-Larson Act of 1976.
  • Oakland County Planning Department has warned Oakland Township that our housing ordinances may be considered exclusionary.
  • The proposed housing for the elderly disabled is not a “business” but a residential use.  This has been confirmed by Oakland Township’s planning consultant, former Township Attorney and the County Zoning Committee.
  • The statement that the neighborhood is “currently upscale single residential” is a red flag that the Federal Government will likely use in their investigation into Oakland Township’s alleged exclusionary zoning.
  • The taxes generated by the residents in the development will offset the costs for services.  However, Gonser reasons that since disabled seniors MAY cost the Township more (example EMS runs), the Special Accommodation should be denied.  This forces other communities to incur the POTENTIAL added cost for the elderly disabled citizens that had to move out of Oakland Township since we have no Senior Housing facilities in our Township. This logic is evidence of another exclusionary action by Oakland Township.
  • At the June 12, 2012 BOT meeting, Supervisor Fogler read a letter from Fire Chief Benoit stating – “Any development, including single family units, increases the burden on the Fire Department.” He goes on to say “It also generates tax revenue and ambulance fee revenue  for use of the emergency services.”  Gonser’s recommendation does not comprehend this fact that came from the Township expert in that field. 
  • Gonser further reasons that since there MAY be increased noise due to the EMS runs to support disabled senior citizens, the Special Accomodation request should be denied, forcing other communities to bear the POTENTIAL increased noise level. This logic is evidence of another exclusionary action by Oakland Township.
  • The traffic study that was validated by the Township’s traffic consultant, the Oakland County Road Commission and the Oakland County Planning Department indicate that the traffic generated during peak traffic hours by this development will actually be less than if the land was developed as single family residential.
  • The decision to NOT include nursing home facilities within the proposed development was based on the TOWNSHIP BOARD MEMBERS’ REQUEST.
  • The ‘end of life’ services afforded the residents of the development are the same as those who choose to live in private residences.
  • The applicant has provided an alternate plan that was reviewed with Gonser and the Township Attorney in private meetings.  That proposal was later reviewed at the October 8th Board meeting.  The minutes for that meeting interestingly do not mention that proposal.  However, a description of the proposal can be seen by going to:

  • The 2005 and 2011 adopted Master Plan indicate that this parcel of land is suited for Senior housing use.
  • Supervisor Gonser admits that “no specific ordinance may exist” to accommodate the disabled elderly, but suggests that the developer come up with a modified plan and submit a rezoning request to (R-M) Multifamily Residential.  Under the R-M zoning, the number of units allowed would be 342.  The developer has made repeated reductions from 342 to 282, then 238, and most recently 228.  Getting the Board to approve 342 units is highly unlikely.  It is questionable if the developer’s proposal of 228 is still an option, given comments made at the October 8th meeting.

For a complete “side by side” comparison of Gonser’s points and counter points, please look at the following file:

Response to Gonser’s SAU recommendation

The legal implications of this decision must be fully understood by the citizens of Oakland Township.  Having a recommendation that is based on a campaign promise, may not be in the Township’s best interest.

A public hearing on this subject has been set for December 10, 2013.  Resident participation is VERY important at that meeting.  


For those interested, a copy of our Township’s Special Accommodation Ordinance can be reviewed here:

Special Accommodation Use Ordinance

Why is this important to the Citizens of Oakland Township?  The upcoming public hearing is very important.  The consequences to the Township could be significant if the Federal Government concludes that the Board’s actions have been discriminatory.  The citizens and the Board must be fully informed.  Whatever your vote was in August on the Blossom Ridge referendum, it is in our best interest to make sure our Township Attorney explains the potential consequences of this decision.

Richard Michalski

Blossom Ridge – A Compromise is on the Table

At the 10/8/13 Board of Trustees Meeting Mr. Ed Kickham, Attorney for the Developer of the proposed Blossom Ridge senior living center presented the outlines of a compromise that has been presented to Supervisor Gonser.  The highlights of the proposal are:

  • The partial 3rd floor of the main building is removed causing a decrease in the units in the building;
  • The number of ranch and duet units on the grounds is increased;
  • The net total unit count is reduced to 228. Note: the plan approved by the Planning Commission had 282 units.

The negotiations are a response to the ongoing investigation by the Department of Housing and Urban Development into allegations of housing discrimination in Oakland Township.

UPDATE:  It has Been reported to me that the minutes for this Meeting do not even mention that Mr. Kickham’s presentation even occurred. The minutes say only that Supervisor Gonser updated the Board on the SAU.  This is not an innocent oversight. Why try to hide an attempt at compromise?

Jim Foulkrod

Township Board approves Supervisor Gonser’s “personal” legal fee

As reported on other posts/ pages on this website, Supervisor Gonser had requested an opinion from the Attorney General on the Blossom Ridge Development.  The Board had originally authorized that request, but later rescinded it.  After being rescinded, Gonser continued to pursue getting an unauthorized opinion, first acting as the Supervisor and then “as an individual”.  

The Township attorney billed the Township for this service.  Trustee Keyes challenged the billing for this service.  At the October 8th Board meeting, Trustee Keyes explained why it was inappropriate for the Township to pay for Gonsers’ personal legal fee.  She made a motion to have him repay the Township.  The Board rejected her motion on a 5 to 2 vote.  

Trustee Keyes and McKay were the only ones who voted to have Gonser repay the Township.  Even though Supervisor Gonser personally benefited from the defeat of this motion, he voted on the motion.  He did not abstain as would have been appropriate.

On April 15th, the author of this post raised questions regarding Gonser’s authority to make the request.  Here is a copy of the ‘logic tree’ I used in my comments at that meeting:

Questions on authority for AG opinion

At that meeting, he stated, he sent the memo “as an individual”.  The copies of the two memos sent, as well as the billing from the Township Attorney, indicate that Gonser did not send the letter “as an individual” until 8 days after he claimed he had sent it.  He was clearly trying to ‘cover his tracks’.  

I have attached a file that is a ‘fact check’ comparing Gonser’s statement at the September 24th meeting, and previous Board meeting comments and other supporting documentation.  Here is the “fact check’ document:

Fact check for AG opinion

Yet with all this as background, the Board agreed to have the Township pay for his personal legal fee.   What could be the motivation for their approval since they had previously rescinded the authority?  Their approval clearly appears to violate their oath of office.

Why is this important to the Citizens of Oakland Township?  With all the facts presented by Trustee Keyes, there does not seem to be any justified reason for the Trustee’s approving the payment for Gonser’s legal fees. What hidden agenda’s were driving their decision?  Was there a decision made outside an open meeting authorizing Gonser to proceed with the Attorney General request?  Gonsers’ vote on the matter is clearly a conflict of interest, and violates his oath of office.

Richard MIchalski

Could the Federal Government determine the Blossom Ridge outcome?

An earlier post on this website gave an example of how the Federal Government took actions against a community in Missouri for discriminatory housing practices.  Attached is a link to an article that describes some recent actions that the Department of Housing and Urban Development may take against communities that demonstrate discriminatory practices.

As stated in earlier posts on this website, there is a Federal investigation of Oakland Township underway regarding alleged discriminatory practices regarding the Blossom Ridge development.

At the last Oakland Township Board meeting, Supervisor Gonser indicated that there have been ongoing discussions with the Blossom Ridge developer to resolve some of the concerns of the  citizens.  At that meeting, the developer’s attorney described revisions to the plan that they were willing to make to arrive at a mutually agreeable plan.  Citizen comments at that meeting were not supportive of the proposed changes.

If the Board of Oakland Township is not successful in coming up with a mutually agreeable plan, and the Federal Investigation determines that Oakland Township has demonstrated discriminatory practices and policies, we may be subject to the Federal government’s decisions as described in the attached web article.

The citizens of Oakland Township need to encourage the Board to come up with a mutually agreeable plan for the Blossom Ridge development.  

The Board is playing “Russian roulette”.  We may lose total control of what is developed, and the Township may have to pay fines if the investigation finds the Township guilty of discriminatory practices. 

Here is the link to the October 14, 2013 website article:

Richard Michalski

Township’s past planning to prevent Legal issues regarding Assisted Living Facilities

The past Planning Commission and Township Board took action to prevent the Legal issues that are now facing Oakland Township regarding discriminatory land use and Zoning ordinances. 

Back in the early part of the last decade, the Township recognized that the Township did not have any zoning that would allow for a Senior assisted living facility.  They knew that we were vulnerable for a Housing Discrimination issue if we did not at least identify some parcels of land that COULD be used for that usage.  As a result, the Planning Commission studied the possible land areas that could support the intensity of that type usage (sewers, water, roads, and surrounding zoning).  There were two locations identified as possible locations for that type usage.  One was the parcel that has the proposed Blossom Ridge development; the other was located on the Northeast corner of Adams and Gunn.  The Planning Commission and the Board approved the MASTER PLAN to indicate that those areas were POTENTIAL sites for High Density Conservation.  The Master Plan does not cause rezoning to occur.  It does indicate where that type usage COULD exist, if the property owner wanted to have it rezoned to that Zoning.

The Moceri Corporation purchased the land on Adams and Dutton, and requested that it be rezoned to the HDC from the MRD as the master plan indicated.  At the same time as the rezoning request, they indicated the development would use the PRRO option.  This defines EXACTLY what the developer is planning, and quite frankly is in the Township’s best interest so there is no “bait and switch” by the developer after the Zoning is changed.

The Zoning request was approved by the old Board, and then placed on hold because of the referendum request.  Moceri also requested the Special Accommodation request, which is allowed by our Ordinances for meeting the special needs of citizens with disabilities.  The old Board placed that request on hold by a 4 to 3 vote until after the referendum.

The new Board delayed the referendum until August of this year by repeated “on again-off again-on again” requests for an opinion from the Attorney General.

The Board’s August 13 action (or inaction) on the Special Accommodation request was VERY IMPORTANT.  If the Board had approved it, the development could go forward.  Many of the residents who voted in the referendum would be VERY UPSET, but the law must be followed – referendum or not.   By not taking action, they have further exposed the Township to delays in providing the “special accommodation” needs for a ‘protected’ portion of our population.

At the August 13th Board meeting, the Board claimed that all the criteria for making a Special Accommodation request were not satisfied. The minutes from the October 9, 2012 Board meeting show that that information was provided in the motion made by Trustee Edwards (this motion was rejected by a 4 to 3 vote).  The information was presented as part of the presentation material at that meeting. At the subsequent meeting, the Board members, opposed to development, voted to have portions of Trustee Edwards motion removed from HIS motion. It is highly unusual and inappropriate to have the Board remove content of a motion that was recorded and rejected.

Since the Special Accommodation request has been on the current Board’s “to do list” for months, raising their recent concerns NOW is another example of their ‘delay strategy”.

In the future if the Board turns the request down, or continues to delay making a decision on the Special Accommodation request, the Township may be found guilty of discrimination for the following reasons:

  1. The Master Plan allows for this type usage at that location
  2. The Developer requested the appropriate rezoning and PRRO for the plan to be developed
  3. The size, height and traffic issues are not valid based on the information that is posted on another portion of this web page under Blossom Ridge.
  4. In March, the County Zoning Coordinating Committee warned the Township that if the development is rejected, the Township would probably be found guilty for discrimination.

The past Planning Commission and a minority of the previous Board did everything they could to prevent this legal issue from causing damages to the Township.  The 4 to 3 vote to defer the Special Accommodation request, and the current Board’s delays place the Township in a very difficult and possibly expensive position.  Please look at at the Recent Post on this webpage titled “Possible ‘vision’ of what could be in store for Oakland Township” to see the fines imposed on a city in Missouri for discriminatory practices.

Why is this important to the citizens of Oakland Township?  If the Federal Investigation that is underway determines that the Township has performed discriminatory practices, the current Board will have to accept full responsibility for the actions that they have taken on this issue, and the Township may have to pay fines as a result of their actions.

Richard Michalski – Former Oakland Township Planning Commissioner for 26 years, and Chair for a number of them.